The importance of music in gaming and gaming in music

May 25, 2010, Author: Jacob Saylor

Throughout the life of video games, one quality always stands out to me the most. This quality is of course, music. Music is such a vibrant, different addition to the world that most of us take for granted. Imagine playing through one of your favorite games, and having no music present at a place in the story where music is so obviously needed. Music creates feelings in the player that would otherwise be left dormant.

On occasion, it can even make a crappy game worth the play, if only for the listening pleasure. While classical music is the most prominent, the range of music encompassed in the world of gaming is enormous. There is everything from country to rap, from punk to classical, from hard rock to alternative. New music types may have even been thought of or innovated through music. Gaming is so much more than gaming; it’s a creative tool.

Having good music to back a bad game is one thing, but having good music backing a fantastic game; that’s just plain pleasure. For instance, Metal Gear Solid 4. There were a few scenes in that game that really hit me hard, but none more than one of the scenes near the end where Old Snake is struggling more than ever before. I’d like to be more specific, but if I was, I’d be a spoiler.

"Vivaldi's Autumn Dream" by Alexandru1988 of Deviantart

In continuation… This scene nearly brought a tear to my eye, the struggle of a heroic character, a twenty-year legacy of Metal Gear Solid coming to an end, an amazing story full of plot-twists and great cut-scenes was just too awesome. It really was a once in a lifetime experience. I look back though, and think about how it would have been without an accompanying orchestra. To be honest, it really wouldn’t have been as good. If you don’t agree with me when I say music awakens dormant feelings, then perhaps you will agree with me when I say music amplifies existing feelings.

Also, we have games such as Halo where the soundtrack is simply unforgettable. People who aren’t even into gaming recognize its astounding score. It’s a treat to listen to it, and an even greater treat to play with it in the background of a game that is good in the first place. Trailers and TV spots using music has enticed more people into the world of gaming. It was used as a universal tool to attract consumers, strengthen gameplay, and provide a better experience overall for the player.

I hate to be brash, but when you look at the music industry things are becoming very generic, very quickly. Orchestral pieces are becoming scarcer and scarcer, and it seems like light-voiced boy bands complaining about relationships are the only things getting a listen to. Gaming creates a niche for the world of orchestras and other forms of music. Let’s face it; I don’t think you’ll  want to be beheading people in God of War to the sound of Justin Bieber any time soon.

Not separated at birth. Clearly.